In our 17 summers of buying a share in a community-sponsored agriculture farm, we’ve developed a 5-step plan for making good use of our weekly veggie crate–but our long-range planning still isn’t perfect. When I put “carrots” on the shopping list in late summer, Daniel bought the 5-pound bag because it was the best value . . . forgetting that we’d start getting carrots from the farm very soon. Carrots hold up pretty well for quite a while in the refrigerator, but they don’t last forever.
We got a bag of carrots, about 1/2 to 1 pound, every week for 4 weeks in a row, and we piled those bags in the veggie drawer on top of the pound or so that was left in the 5-pound bag. Oh, yes, we were using a carrot or three, here and there, but we weren’t using them nearly as fast as they were coming in! Our oldest carrots looked like this:
Eeewwww. It would be easy to believe that those aren’t food anymore, at least not food for humans. Maybe we could put them in the compost for earthworms to eat?
Actually, carrots that look like this are still mostly good to eat! Just cut off those black spots, the leaf ends, and any parts that feel squishy. Then scrub the carrots and peel them to remove all those whiskery roots. (Put all of these removed parts in the compost.)
See? After just a few minutes’ work, they look much more edible!
Now, what will we do with all those carrots? My favorite approach is to process them all at once, use some in a recipe right away, and grate and freeze the others for later use. (If you want to freeze larger chunks of carrot, you’ll need to blanch them first. Grated carrot does not need blanching; just pack it into bags and squeeze out all the air to prevent freezer-burn.)
This little pile of carrots turned into 5 1/2 cups of grated carrot, enough to fill my food processor to the top!
The plastic bags found inside boxes of cereal and crackers can be reused as freezer bags! Just leave plenty of slack to roll over at the top, and secure with a rubber band.
Here are some great ways to eat carrots!
These work only with raw carrots:
- Tossed salad
- Carrot sticks for dipping in healthy onion dip or instant hummus–serve them at coffee hour or another party!
- Cucumber Salad
- Sushi or maki rolls. Check out Penniless Parenting’s tips for easy, affordable homemade sushi!
All of these can be made starting with raw carrots or with carrots you’ve frozen and then thawed:
- Ginger Black Bean Soup (slow-cooker recipe)
- High-Protein, Vegan Pasta Salad
- Apricot Lentil Soup
- Grildebeen Burgers (homemade veggie burgers)
- Masoor Dal (Indian lentil dish)
- Japanese Udon Noodle Soup
- Fried Rice
- Egg Drop Soup
- Lentil Rice (3 flavor variations!)
- Flexican Cornbread Pizza
- Fry carrots, cabbage or kale, and green onions in toasted sesame oil, with or without tofu, peanuts, cashews, Spicy Peanut Sauce or Teriyaki Sauce. Serve over rice or noodles for an Asian-style meal.
- Saute carrots, kale, and onions in olive oil with garlic, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add garbanzo or cannellini beans for an Italian-style meal.
- Cook carrots in butter with brown sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Serve as a side dish for dinner or even on your breakfast oatmeal!
- Add carrots to your Thanksgiving stuffing.
- Add a small amount of carrot to mashed potatoes or Turnips Armored in Self-Defense for extra color and nutrition.
- Bake carrot cake or carrot-pineapple muffins, or substitute grated carrots (including all the water that separates when they’re thawed) for applesauce in a recipe like Raisin Bran Bread.
If you leave your carrots in chunks instead of grating them, roasting is a delicious option! Simply toss them with oil and any seasonings you care to use, spread in a single layer on a pan with sides, and bake at 425F, stirring every 10 minutes, until nicely browned. While you’re at it, why not roast all your vegetables? See my article at Kitchen Stewardship for 7 delicious meals made with roasted veggies!